Email Newsletters (and the ever-present backlog)

I’ve blogged in the past about the ways in which I’m trying to shape my news/information consumption. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is get more info from email newsletters and less from randomly dipping into the Facebook/Twitter/Reddit fire hose. I have a “read/review” folder in my email where these newsletters get filed (based on some rules). Then, in theory, I read them. In practice, I’ve usually got about 400 emails in that folder, unread. I dip into it on weekends and read some stuff, but I never really catch up.

I discovered something interesting this weekend, so I thought I’d write it up. I subscribe to several newsletters from the NY Times. One of them is their “NY Today” newsletter, which has news and information for stuff related to NY (and sometimes NJ), daily. My current backlog has me reading stuff from April right now, so a lot of stuff in that newsletter isn’t too useful. But, on Friday, I wanted to check some stuff about what was going on in NYC this weekend so I thought I’d open up the current one and read it. When I went to the top of the read/review folder, I couldn’t find it, or any other NY Times newsletters. (And I checked my spam folder, and they weren’t in there either.) It turns out that I stopped receiving all of them in early June. I went to my subscription page, and I showed as still subscribed to everything. So I decided to fire off an email to customer support. I didn’t really expect much from that, but I figured that, as a paying subscriber, maybe they’d get back to me with something useful. Well, surprisingly, they did. It turns out that, apparently, if you’re not actively clicking links in the email newsletters, their system automatically stops sending them to you at some point. I’m a little unclear about how that actually works. The way they phrased it, it sounded like you’d be dropped if you haven’t clicked a link in a newsletter in the past 90 days. But I’ve clicked plenty of links within the last 90 days, though they were mostly in newsletters that were more than 90 days old. So maybe you need to have clicked a link within the last 90 days, in a newsletter that’s less than 90 days old?

Anyway, I found that interesting. I resubscribed to a couple of newsletters, so the backlog will start building up again, but I’m not going to resubscribe to everything I’d previously subscribed to. For one thing, their system requires me to go through that annoying reCAPTCHA “prove you’re human” stuff every time I subscribe to a newsletter. And that’s gotten more and more onerous lately. I’ve notice that it’s less annoying if I do it while not connected to VPN. (I guess that using a VPN makes me more likely to be a robot?)

I really think that the Times should hook their “paying subscriber” info into their newsletter system and just let the fact that I’m giving them money every month be enough evidence that I’m human. (And maybe also exempt me from that 90-day timeout thing.)

This has all got me thinking about news consumption in general again, and maybe tweaking things a little more. But that should probably be a subject for another blog post, on another day, since I think I’ve wasted enough time on this stuff today. I should go outside and get some fresh air.

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